Minutes: February 26, 2008


Report of the meeting of the ACADEMIC AFFAIRS COMMITTEE of Erindale College Council held on Tuesday, February 26, 2008, at 3:10 p.m. in Room 3129, South Building.

Present: A. Lange (in the Chair), G. Averill, D. Crocker, A. Wensley, I. Whyte, J. Sidnell, J. Poë, N. Copeland, C. Evans, S. Munro, A. Bendlin, S. Meza, M. Lippincott, R. Gerlai, S. Baumann, T. Al-Sarraj, J.P. Paluzzi, L. Thomson, M.L. Smith, J. McCurdy-Myers

Regrets: U. Krull, I. Orchard, A. Erosa, B. Katz, G. Anderson

1. Minutes of the previous meeting (November 27, 2007)

The minutes of the previous meeting were approved.

2. Reports of Committees and Officers

a) Report from the Dean – Professor Gage Averill

i. Revised Guidelines for Funded Leaves

Professor Averill referred to the guidelines for funded leaves recently revised by the Faculty of Arts & Science. He remarked that Arts & Science has had a difficult time enforcing these rules and therefore it was felt that there was a need in that faculty to produce one cohesive and clear document. The Dean noted that neither U of T Mississauga nor Scarborough felt the need to develop a formal document as these two campuses had not experienced any difficulty with managing funded leaves. The Dean referred members to the Arts & Science Supplementary Guidelines on Research and Study Leaves, which is attached hereto as Appendix A.

The Chair opened the floor to questions.

Members discussed bringing a similar UTM focused document back to the Academic Affairs Committee at a future meeting.

b) Report from the Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management – Diane Crocker

i. Course Information Page

Ms. Crocker reported that the Office of the Registrar has numerous interactions with departments regarding marking schemes related to scheduling requested deferred exams and regarding transfer credit assessments. In addition, other institutions ask about UTM’s course information. She noted that these course information pages may replace what some departments call their ‘green sheet’.

Ms. Crocker handed out a draft mockup of a course information page. The information on the course information page is pulled from the existing calendar and ROSI, so faculty do not have to fill it out, and students choosing courses in July will already have this information available to them. There will be a direct link from the online calendar to course information page, with the hope that having this information available on the data base will ease decision making for students. She noted that this will require less work for instructors and will streamline the process, with faculty providing the marking scheme portion of the page. A pilot of the new course information page will be run this summer for testing, with the plan to establish a final version by July.

The Chair opened the floor to questions.

In response to a member’s question, Ms. Crocker explained that with respect to transfer credit assessments, UTM will have an easier time comparing its courses with those of other universities because of these course information outlines.

Also in response to a member’s question, Ms. Crocker confirmed that there will be a process of approval of these sheets by Chairs.

A member suggested that there be more than just a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ option for the audio visual requirements; in addition, she suggested that the Office of the Registrar explore ways of allowing users to enter textbook names.

ii. Annual Report of the Office of the Registrar (available through the faculty and staff applications page at the Office of the Registrar home page – UTORid needed to log in)

Ms. Crocker referred members to the Annual Report of the Office of the Registrar available on the Office of the Registrar home page. She highlighted a few key points of the annual report in her presentation.

Ms. Crocker reported that most enrolment targets were met, with total domestic intake at 2622 and total international intake at 308. Currently there are a total of 10,350 undergraduate students at UTM, with this figure moving to 10500 in 2008 and 11000 in 2010. She reported that program enrolment targets have also been met.

Ms. Crocker showed a chart of the top ten countries for international recruitment, which include Jordan and Saudia Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Regarding academic petitions, she reported that between September 1, 2006 and August 31, 2007, there were 1855 late withdrawals and 1449 deferred exams; there were a total of 3705 petitions during this time.

Ms. Crocker also reported that entrance awards in the 88% to 98.9% range have continued to increase over the past several years, with 108 awards given out in this category in 2007; this figure for the 88% to 95+% category was 238 for the same year.

3. New Business:

a) Proposed Changes to Late Withdrawal Rules, Grading Practices Policy and Courses Considered as “Extra” – Gage Averill, VP Academic and Dean and Diane Crocker, Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management

The Chair called on the Dean, Professor Gage Averill to introduce this item. Professor Averill noted that these three proposals stemmed from discussions at the first entry deans group, a university registrar’s group as well as a smaller group made up of tri-campus deans. He added that the Faculty of Arts & Science and the University of Toronto Scarborough are also taking these proposals through their governance. He referred members to the document detailing all three proposals under discussion, attached hereto as Appendix B.

i) Late Withdrawal Proposal:

The Chair called on Ms. Diane Crocker, Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management to introduce the first proposal.

Ms. Crocker reported that data for deferred exams shows that the number of students who pay for, but do not write special deferred exams has grown substantially; these special deferred exams are then followed by multiple petitions and appeals. She noted that much staff time is involved in the administration of these petitions. The recommendation that students may request to withdraw without petition from a total of no more than 3.0 FCEs in the 20.0 FCEs required for their degree, will provide an appropriate mechanism for students, with the guidance of an academic advisor, to remedy situations where the student is struggling, has fallen irretrievably behind, or is overwhelmed by personal or other circumstances.

It was duly moved and seconded,

THAT Students pursuing a degree at University of Toronto Mississauga may request to withdraw without petition from a total of no more than 3.0 FCEs in the 20.0 FCEs required for their degree, provided such a request is made by the last day of classes in the relevant course; and
THAT Such requests will be made through an academic advising appointment in the Office of the Registrar. The Associate Registrar, Student Records, will be granted the authority to approve these requests, only after the student has received advising and fully understands the implications of their actions. Guidelines for granting requests will be developed jointly between the Office of the Registrar and the Dean and VP Academic; and
THAT Withdrawals approved under this procedure will be noted on the academic record by the course status LWD (Late Withdrawal after the Drop Date). This course status will have no effect on the GPA or other elements of the academic record. (D. Crocker/G. Averill)

The Chair opened the floor to discussion of the motion.

In answer to a member’s question about why the rule specifies late withdrawal by the last day of classes, Ms. Crocker explained that the Office of the Registrar needs to know by the day of exams who is scheduled to write them.

In response to a member’s question whether the Office of the Registrar will be overwhelmed by the number of students taking advantage of this new rule, Ms. Crocker answered that the office handles most of these students in crisis already; in addition it is expected that deferred exam petitions will lessen, therefore it is not expected that the Office of the Registrar will be inundated.

A member suggested that instead of giving more leeway to students with such a rule, that the university be in fact stricter, since students may, despite evidence to the contrary, keep going on with their studies until almost the end of classes and then decide to withdraw from them. Ms. Crocker replied that this scenario is addressed in the next proposal on grading practices policy, in which a larger percentage of marks is requested to be returned to students, presumably making their decision whether or not to continue on in the course easier.

A member commented that with the exception of those students in an unusual crisis, her experience has been that despite ample marks returned and evidence of poor performance, many students still think they will pass the course. She expressed her opinion that there are more of these types of students than those in genuine crisis situations and that by introducing this policy, the university is not doing a service to these students; more of them will stay to the end of the course when they should not. Ms. Crocker acknowledged that the Office of the Registrar needed to do more to address these students by identifying them early on and offering them academic advising.

The Dean noted that some of these concerns were also raised by chairs and therefore the following two penalties and requirements have been incorporated into the proposal to address these issues: there will be a “LWD” annotation added to transcripts and academic advising has been included as a mandated component.

A member asked how this proposal affects students who need OSAP. Ms. Crocker explained that in order to satisfy OSAP requirements, students need to keep a full-time course load, which is 3.0

A member asked whether there is some kind of follow up with these students. Ms. Crocker answered in the affirmative, noting that this is done on a regular basis and includes resource referrals.

The motion was approved.

ii) Grading Practices Policy Change

The Registrar and Director of Enrolment Management made the following motion.

It was duly moved and seconded,

THAT Instructors shall return by the deadline one or more marked assignments and/or term tests worth a combined total of at least 25% of the total course mark for H courses and 25% for Y courses; and
THAT The deadline for returning such marked work shall be the last regular class meeting prior to the Drop Date, with one exception: for courses that run the entire Fall/Winter Session (Y5Y or H5Y courses), the deadline shall be the last regular class meeting of the first week of classes in January. (D. Crocker/J.P. Paluzzi)

The Chair opened the floor to discussion of the motion.

A member commented that some courses have accelerated grading systems, whereby students end up with a low mark with the first assignment and/or test, and the marking scheme is then ramped up during the term, with the major assignment falling into the second part of term. The member stated that he did not concur with a 25% requirement for an H course.

Another member agreed and suggested a requirement of 15% for half courses.

The Dean commented that the proposal sought to introduce a policy that was fair and practical and that the intention was not to set a bar that faculty could not reach. He added that he would support a 15% requirement for half courses. The Registrar concurred.

Another member spoke in favour of the 15% change for H courses.

The amended motion, with the change that instructors return by the deadline one or more marked assignments and/or term tests worth a combined total of at least 15%, instead of 25%, of the total course mark for H courses and 25% for Y courses was read.

The amended motion was approved.

iii) Repeat One Course Only OTO as Extra:

Ms. Crocker explained that students are currently permitted to repeat courses in which they have received a passing grade once only as “Extra” courses, only if they need a higher mark than they have achieved to qualify for a POSt or as a prerequisite for a later course at the University. This proposal provides students with a limited opportunity to remedy particular circumstances reaching beyond internal regulations.

It was duly moved and seconded,

THAT A student may repeat 1.0 FCE (in which he or she has received a passing mark) for reasons other than to gain a required mark in a course required for a prerequisite or to qualify for entry into a Subject POSt; and
THAT Such a repeated course will be designated as an Extra course: it will appear on the academic record, but will be marked “Extra” and will not be included in GPA calculations or in the degree credit count; and
THAT Students requesting to repeat a course in this way must do so at the Office of the Registrar, where they will receive appropriate advising and will be enrolled, provided there is space available, only after other degree students have had an opportunity to enroll. (D. Crocker /A. Wensley)

The Chair opened the floor to discussion of the motion.

Members spoke in support the motion.

On a member’s suggestion the language of the motion was clarified to indicate that 1.0 FCE could also be two half courses. Therefore the second paragraph of the motion was changed to read: “Such a repeated course or courses will be designated as Extra and will appear on the academic record, but will be marked “Extra” and will not be included in GPA calculations or in the degree credit count;”

The amended motion was approved.

b) Library Annual Review 2006-07: Ian Whyte, Acting Chief Librarian

Mr. Whyte reported that the annual review was done by Ms. Mary Ann Mavrinac, Chief Librarian. He noted that the 2006-07 academic year was a significant one for the library because of its new location and grand opening. The Annual Review is attached hereto as Appendix C and is also available on the library’s website.

Mr. Whyte referred members to the goals of the library, outlined on page 5 of the review.

He highlighted some of the library’s service enhancements. The “24/5 study space” pilot project , funded by the Provost’s Student Experience Fund allowed the library to be open 24 hours from Sunday to Thursday during the December and April examination periods. This was a very successful and popular service enhancement. In addition, the library’s entire collection was moved without disruption in service. He noted that the greatest enhancement of services centered on the opening of the new library, adding over 60% more library space, an 85% in crease in study space, 19 group study rooms, wireless access throughout the building, and a variety of teaching and learning spaces.

The Chair opened the floor to questions.

A member noted that at a previous Committee meeting members heard about the library code of conduct, its consequences and efforts to reduce noise levels and asked how effective these efforts had been. Mr. Whyte explained that efforts to reduce noise levels were ongoing and would continue until the end of the year. He reported that signage was in place enticing students to whisper and areas of silence have been designated, noting that it will take a sustained effort to make this endeavour a success. With respect to consequences, the library has had to ban a couple of students for short periods.

Before the close of the meeting, the Dean announced that the following two items recommended by the Academic Affairs Committee have been approved by Governing Council: the name change for the Department of French, German & Italian to the Department of Language Studies and the new Bachelor of Business Administration.

The Chair announced that the next meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Tuesday, March 25, 2008.

The meeting adjourned at 5:00 p.m.

Secretary ______________________________ Chair _______________________________